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Remove food sources to reduce potential for bear conflicts

Bird feeders can attract a lot more than local winged friends or the errant squirrel.

They also can draw much larger creatures — like Michigan’s black bear — looking for a tasty treat.

Black bears are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders, despite the abundance of available natural food sources, and bird feeders and garbage cans contain odors that can lure bears to backyards and camping areas in search of an easy meal.

To avoid potential conflicts with black bears, consider taking down bird feeders and removing other food sources like pet food, trash cans, grills, and anything else that might contain food debris or odors. Protect honey bee hives with electric fencing.

Bears remember where to find food sources and will return if food is available. Bears that rely on those sources can encounter people, and that repeated exposure can cause them to lose their natural fear of humans.

“It’s important that these creatures maintain their natural instincts and remain wild, because getting too close to humans can have dangerous consequences for them,” said DNR Wildlife Outreach Coordinator Rachel Leightner. “Those of us who live and recreate in Michigan’s bear country share the responsibility of avoiding activities that create problem situations for bears.”

To learn more about Michigan’s black bear and how to be Bear SMART, visit Michigan.gov/Bear. Additional tips and information on how to handle conflicts with wildlife are available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

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